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November 17, 2012

Ponte Vedra LB growing into leader role

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PONTE VEDRA - Often times one of the most basic things that high school athletes overlook is simple, the 'fundamentals'.

Wrapping up every tackle, not missing assignments, staying at home, the list goes on.

For Ponte Vedra standout Junior Linebacker Dillon Bates, that's not the case.

"Perfecting the fundamentals and never taking any reps off is something I take great pride in."

The Ponte Vedra linebacker does have an advantage over some, coming from a football pedigree with his two older brothers both playing at the college level and his father Bill Bates being a former Dallas Cowboy.

It's no wonder why Bates continues to gather more and more attention from schools across the country and Bates gives credit to his brothers and father for his development.

"They always tell me to better myself as a player," Bates said "Find ways to separate myself from the next linebacker out there" .

The 6-3 218 lbs linebacker has been the backbone for the Sharks defense, leading the team in tackles averaging 6.3 a game.

The Sharks finished the regular season at 9-2 after a heart-breaking loss to Bishop Kenny 16-13. The season didn't start the way the Sharks had envisioned being upset by Orange Park, 21-3 to open the season.

"It definitely opened up our eyes, we knew couldn't take any games for granted after that."

Bates along with the rest of his team put loss quickly behind them rattling off nine straight wins including a one-point thrilling victory over cross-town rival Bartram Trail before falling to Kenny.

Games like that are what make it all worth the while for Bates.

"The Bartram Trail game will be a game I'll always remember," said Bates. "We really grew from that game and it's a memory I can always take with me ".

Still, with so much football left to be played the future looks bright for Bates who is currently being recruited by schools such as Tennessee, South Carolina, Northwestern, and Notre Dame just to name a few.

For many, the recruiting process can often be overwhelming but Bates is taking one day at a time.

"It's certainly a once in a life time experience and can be a lot to take in," Bates said. "I know a lot of players can lose track of what's going on at their own school but I'm not letting that happen to me, I still have a lot left to prove here. "

While Bates is enjoying the recruiting process he still is pretty unclear as to where he will want to call home for his college career.

"Right now I wouldn't even say I have a top 3 or even 5 at this point, but I will be narrowing it down soon."

Bates will still have next year to achieve what every high school football player desires, a state championship and to also improve on , the 'fundamentals'.

"I still want to improve on everything, strength, speed, agility, bench press and so much more."

One thing that is for sure is class of 2014 standout will be one that will make whichever school he chooses a happy one.



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